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This book analyzes the origins of the relationships between Islamist groups and Pakistan’s military, and explores Pakistan’s quest for identity and security.
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Praise for Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military

A very valuable addition to the existing literature.

International Affairs

Taking years of first-hand experience of Pakistani politics, Haqqani’s narrative weaves disparate strands into an informative and authoritative tale.

Far Eastern Economic Review

"For gaining a grasp of the situation and its implications for the United States, there may be no better place to begin than Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military."

Commentary

In Pakistan, a nation that the United States has been happy to use without ever bothering to understand, the global war on terror will be won or lost. In this cogent, well-informed and extraordinarily informative book, Husain Haqqani describes in detail the unholy alliance between Islamists and military officers that has shaped Pakistan’s past and may well determine its future. An important and disturbing tale, deftly told.

—Andrew J. Bacevich, Author of The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War

Husain Haqqani has seen Pakistani politics close up. But his book is much more than a memoir: Haqqani has produced a provocative and controversial history revealing the depth of the links between the army and the Islamic radicals. Required reading.

—Owen Bennett-Jones, BBC, Author of Pakistan: The Eye of the Storm

We are in Husain Haqqani’s debt for providing the authoritative account of the linkages between Pakistan’s powerful Islamists and its professional army. He conclusively demonstrates that these ties are long-standing, complex, and very troubling. This brilliantly researched and written book should be required reading for anyone who wishes to understand this increasingly important state.

—Stephen P. Cohen, Brookings Institution, Author of The Idea of Pakistan and The Pakistan Army

Husain Haqqani has written the most comprehensive account of the role of religion and the army in Pakistan’s tangled history. It makes for fascinating and sobering reading. The challenge of maintaining a ‘moderate Islamic’ identity at a time of national insecurity and religious passion remains one of the central problems confronting any Pakistan government.

—Teresita Schaffer, CSIS, Former U.S. Ambassador and Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia

© 2005 Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. All rights reserved.

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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication data

Haqqani, Husain, 1956–

Pakistan : between mosque and military / Husain Haqqani.

p. cm.

Summary: This book analyzes the origins of the relationships between Islamist groups and Pakistan’s military, and explores Pakistan’s quest for identity and security. Tracing how the Pakistani military has sought U.S. support by making itself useful for concerns of the moment, author Husain Haqqani offers an alternative view of political developments in Pakistan since the country’s independence in 1947—Provided by publisher.

Includes bibliographical references and index.

ISBN-13: 978-0-87003-223-3 (cloth)

ISBN 10: 0-87003-223-2 (cloth)

ISBN-13: 978-0-87003-214-1 (pbk.)

ISBN-10: 0-87003-214-3 (pbk.)

ISBN-13: 978-0-87003-285-1 (e-book)

1. Civil-military relations—Pakistan. 2. Islam and politics—Pakistan. 3. Pakistan—Armed Forces—Political activity. 4. United States—Military relations—Pakistan.

5. Pakistan—Military relations—United States. I. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. II. Title.

JQ629.A38C585 2005 322'.5’09549—dc22

2005012396


Contents

Foreword by Jessica T. Mathews

Acknowledgments

Map of the Region

1. Introduction: Identity and Ideology

2. Defending Ideological Frontiers

3. Old and New Pakistan

4. From Islamic Republic to Islamic State

5. Afghan Jihad

6. Military Rule by Other Means

7. Jihad without Borders

8. Conclusion: From Ideological to Functional State

Notes

Index

About the Author

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Foreword

Of all the United States’ partners in the global war on terrorism, Pakistan is the most vexing and arguably the most important. For years it has been accused of encouraging terror, through support of the former Taliban government in Afghanistan and by promoting armed opposition to Indian control of Kashmir. Following the events of September 11, 2001, however, Pakistan cast its lot with the United States, providing assistance to U.S. military operations in Afghanistan and sharing valuable intelligence. Today, Pakistan is simultaneously a breeding ground for radical Islam and a key ally in the U.S. effort to eliminate terror in South Asia and worldwide.

This ambiguous relationship is rooted in the historic alliance between Islamists and the Pakistani military—the subject of Husain Haqqani’s fascinating political history of this young, troubled state. Haqqani, a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment, political commentator, and former Pakistani diplomat, examines the entire period of Pakistan’s statehood, from which he masterfully extracts the key factors that have shaped the contours of the country’s evolution.

Haqqani shows how perceptions of Pakistan’s external and domestic threats have produced a debilitating partnership of expediency between Islamists and the military. Government officials have not only used Islam to unify the multiethnic and multilingual Pakistani state, they have also used it to reinforce Pakistani identity in opposition to India’s predominantly Hindu population. Conflict with neighboring India has mainly benefited the Pakistani military, which has used its exalted status to play a decisive role in government policy, even during periods of civilian rule. Haqqani contends that while Pakistan’s leaders have repeatedly courted religious nationalism to advance their personal agendas, they have rarely been able to control its less desirable effects. The historic alliance between Islamists and Pakistan’s military has the potential to frustrate antiterrorist operations, radicalize key segments of the Islamic world, and bring India and Pakistan to the brink of war yet again, he warns.

Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military is an articulate and convincing plea for a return to civilian-led government and an end to the Islamistmilitary alliance. As Haqqani amply demonstrates, reliance on this partnership has stoked the flames of conflict, impeded efforts to control terrorist operations, and diverted precious resources from the country’s considerable development challenges. In doing so, Haqqani firmly rejects the view that greater democratic participation will empower Islamic extremists.

Now more than ever, the fates of the United States and Pakistan are tightly intertwined. From counterterrorism to nuclear nonproliferation, effective cooperation with Pakistan is a sine qua non for the success of critical U.S. foreign policy goals. The harrowing discovery of the A. Q. Khan network in 2003—a Pakistan-based operation that had for years been selling nuclear bomb designs and equipment to North Korea, Iran, Libya and elsewhere—is only the most recent example of this troubled interdependence. Given the central role Pakistan plays in whether or not the U.S. reaches so many of its foreign policy objectives, partnership with this South Asian power is sure to be a high priority well into the future.

Between Mosque and Military is a timely and original contribution to our understanding of one of the U.S.’s most enigmatic allies. At this particularly critical juncture in the U.S.-Pakistani relationship, Haqqani’s trenchant analysis and practical recommendations deserve our closest attention.

Jessica T. Mathews President,

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Acknowledgments

This book is the result of my lifelong passion for understanding the history and politics of my homeland and for creating a democratic Pakistan. In a sense everyone in Pakistan who has contributed to my learning and the evolution of my ideas has contributed to this book. That includes my neighbors, teachers, and friends from my days as a student activist with Islamic sympathies; my many colleagues as a journalist; and the several Pakistani officials who I worked with, or for, during my days in government.

My father, Muhammad Saleem Haqqani, taught me at an early age to question the officially distorted version of events in Pakistan. My mother, Saeeda Saleem Haqqani, continues to support me, as she has done at every stage of my life. She believed in me through the many controversies in which I have been embroiled.

I learned about the ethos of Pakistan’s civil bureaucracy from Roedad Khan, Saeed Mehdi, Anwar Zahid, and Ijlal Zaidi. Zaidi was, in addition, also helpful in figuring out several mysteries of Pakistan’s political development.

Pakistan’s military and intelligence services try very hard to remain inscrutable. My understanding of these institutions was made possible by my acquaintance with Generals Aslam Beg, Asad Durrani, Hamid Gul, Jehangir Karamat, Zulfikar Khan, Asif Nawaz, Abdul Qayyum, and Syed Refaqat. Generals Durrani and Refaqat have remained friends, notwithstanding our occasional differences of opinion and outlook. I also value my friendship with several colonels and junior officers in the Pakistani military establishment but they would probably not like to be named in a book of this nature.

Among Pakistani political figures, I am grateful to Benazir Bhutto for a free exchange of ideas during our decade-long association. My analysis has also benefited from exchanges with Qazi Hussain Ahmed, Professor Khurshid Ahmed, Kamal Azfar, Hamid Nasir Chattha, Syed Munawwar Hasan, former president Ghulam Ishaq Khan, Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi, Shafqat Mahmood, Sardar Abdul Qayyum, Anwar Saifullah, Nawaz Sharif, and Manzoor Wattoo.

The friendship of several American diplomats and scholars has been invaluable. Among them I would like to mention Jerry Brennig, Stephen Cohen, William Milam, Robert Oakley, Robin Raphel, Teresita and Howard Schaffer, Michele Sison, and Marvin Weinbaum.

Nuscie Jamil, Maleeha Lodhi, Najam Sethi, and Nasim Zehra provided friendship, guidance, and help even when we disagreed vehemently. With Nuscie and Najam, our agreements have become greater than our disagreements over time. The advice of Ardeshir Cowasjee, Amina Jilani, Arif Nizami, Sherry Rahman, Muhammad Salahuddin, Mahmood Sham, Mujibur Rahman Shami, and Sajjad Mir was always helpful as was the friendship of Khawaja Ashraf, Sophia Aslam, Yahya Al-Husseini, Zia Khokhar, Mian Saleemullah, and Aniq Zafar. The fear of criticism by my mother-in-law, Akhtar Ispahani, helped me fine tune my argument in several places.

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace provided me the opportunity and the environment for actually thinking through and writing this book. My special thanks are due to the endowment’s president, Jessica Mathews, and vice presidents Paul Balaran and George Perkovich. Carnegie librarians Kathleen Higgs and Chris Henley helped me find even the most obscure reference material without complaint. The publications team, notably Carmen MacDougall, Phyllis Jask, and Sukhi Sahni, put up with missed deadlines and offered much needed encouragement in the final stages of the book’s writing, production, and marketing.

My research was greatly assisted by Carnegie junior fellows Faith Hillis, Alexander Kuo, and Revati Prasad, as well as interns Fariha Haque and Anirudh Suri. My students Shilpa Moorthy, Aparna Pande, and Humza Tarar were helpful in locating some of the material used in the notes.

My children Huda Haqqani and Hammad Haqqani sacrificed much of their summer vacation and endured broken promises of their father’s company as I conducted my research. By the time the book was completed, their question How far are you with your book? had become a major reason for my wanting to finish the project. Although Maha and Mira were away from their father during this period, I am sure their reactions would not have been different from those of their siblings.

The most significant source of inspiration and support in my life is my wife, Farahnaz Ispahani. Farah, as she is known to her American friends, provides the emotional and intellectual anchor that is needed for any major endeavor. I am grateful to Farah for her support and encouragement, as well as her many helpful specific comments that made this book possible. I look forward to the benefit of her partnership for the rest of my life.

I would like to add that the views expressed in this book are solely mine, as are any mistakes and errors.

1

Introduction: Identity and Ideology

Pakistan for more than a decade has been accused of supporting terrorism, mainly because of its support for militants opposing Indian rule in the disputed Himalayan territory of Jammu and Kashmir and also its backing of the Taliban government in Afghanistan. After September 11, 2001, when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Pakistan heeded U.S. pressure to reverse course and take a stand against terrorism. Pakistan became a key U.S. ally, facilitating U.S. military operations in Afghanistan and sharing intelligence about Al Qaeda operatives. Nevertheless, terrorists continue to operate in, and from, Pakistan. The country is now a target and a staging ground for terrorism while it is simultaneously seen by U.S. policy makers as the key to ending terrorism in South Asia.

Pakistan’s future direction is crucial to the U.S.-led war against terror, not least because of Pakistan’s declared nuclear-weapons capability. The historic alliance between Islamists and Pakistan’s military, which is the subject of this book, has the potential of frustrating antiterrorist operations, radicalizing key segments of the Islamic world, and bringing India and Pakistan yet again to the brink of war.

Pakistan’s Islamists made their strongest showing in a general election during parliamentary polls held in October 2002, when they secured 11.1 percent of the popular vote and 20 percent of the seats in the lower house of Parliament. Since then, they have pressed for Taliban-style Islamization in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) bordering Afghanistan, where they control the provincial administration. Pakistan’s military ruler, General Pervez Musharraf, has made repeated pronouncements to reassure the world of his intention to radically alter Pakistan’s policy direction away from its recent Islamist and jihadi past. In a major policy speech on January 12, 2002, Musharraf announced measures to limit the influence of Islamic militants at home, including those previously described by him as Kashmiri freedom fighters. No organizations will be able to carry out terrorism on the pretext of Kashmir, he declared. Whoever is involved with such acts in the future will be dealt with strongly whether they come from inside or outside the country.¹

Musharraf’s supporters described his speech as revolutionary.² He received international applause and support as well. Pakistanis tired of years of religious and sectarian violence agreed with Musharraf’s statement that Violence and terrorism have been going on for years and we are weary and sick of this Kalashnikov culture … The day of reckoning has come. But soon it became apparent that Musharraf’s government continues to make a distinction between terrorists (a term applied to Al Qaeda members who are mainly of foreign origin as well as members of Pakistan’s sectarian militant groups) and freedom fighters (the officially preferred label in Pakistan for Kashmiri militants). The Musharraf government also remains tolerant of remnants of Afghanistan’s Taliban regime, hoping to use them in resuscitating Pakistan’s influence in Afghanistan in case the U.S.-installed regime of President Hamid Karzai falters.

This duality in Pakistani policy is a structural problem, rooted in history and a consistent policy of the state. It is not just the inadvertent outcome of decisions by some governments (beginning with that of General Muhammad Zia ul-Haq in 1977), as is widely believed.

Since the country’s inception, Pakistan’s leaders have played upon religious sentiment as an instrument of strengthening Pakistan’s identity. Under ostensibly pro-Western rulers, Islam has been the rallying cry against perceived Indian threats. Such rulers have attempted to manage militant Islamism, trying to calibrate it so that it serves its nation-building function without destabilizing internal politics or relations with Western countries. General Zia ul-Haq went farther than others in Islamizing Pakistan’s legal and educational system, but his policy of Islamization was the extension of a consistent state ideology, not an aberration.

Islamist groups have been sponsored and supported by the state machinery at different times to influence domestic politics and support the military’s political dominance. In the South Asian region, the Islamists have been allies in the Pakistan military’s efforts to seek strategic depth in Afghanistan and to put pressure on India for negotiations over the future of Kashmir. Relations between ideologically motivated clients and their state patrons are not always smooth, which partly explains the inability of Pakistan’s generals to completely control the Islamists in the post-9/11 phase. The alliance between the mosque and the military in Pakistan was forged over time, and its character has changed with the twists and turns of Pakistani history.

Pakistan’s state institutions, especially its national security institutions such as the military and the intelligence services, have played a leading role in building Pakistani national identity on the basis of religion since Pakistan’s emergence as an independent country in August 1947. This political commitment to an ideological state gradually evolved into a strategic commitment to jihadi ideology—ideology of holy war—especially during and after the Bangladesh war of 1971, when the Pakistani military used Islamist idiom and the help of Islamist groups to keep secular leaders who were supported by and elected by the majority Bengali-speaking population out of power. Rebellion by the Bengalis and their brutal suppression by Pakistan’s military followed. In the 1971 war, Pakistan was split apart with the birth of an independent Bangladesh.

After the 1971 war, in the original country’s western wing, the effort to create national cohesion between Pakistan’s disparate ethnic and linguistic groups through religion took on greater significance, and its manifestations became more militant. Religious groups, both armed and unarmed, have become gradually more powerful as a result of this alliance between the mosque and the military. Radical and violent manifestations of Islamist ideology, which sometimes appear to threaten Pakistan’s stability, are in some ways a state project gone wrong.

The emergence of Pakistan as an independent state in 1947 was the culmination of decades of debate and divisions among Muslims in British India about their collective future. After the consolidation of British rule in the nineteenth century, Muslims found themselves deprived of the privileged status they enjoyed under Mughal rule. Some of their leaders embraced territorial nationalism and did not define their collective personality through religion. They opposed British rule and called for full participation in the Indian nationalist movement led by the Indian National Congress of Mohandas Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. Others felt that Muslims had a special identity that would be erased over time by ethnic and territorial nationalism centered primarily on the Hindu majority in India.

Coalescing in the All-India Muslim League and led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah, these Muslim nationalists asserted that India’s Muslims constituted a nation separate from non-Muslim Indians and subsequently demanded a separate homeland in areas with a Muslim majority. British India’s Muslim-majority provinces lay in its northwest and northeast, leading to Pakistan comprising two wings separated by India until the eastern wing became the new state of Bangladesh in December 1971. Pakistan’s creation represented the acceptance of the two-nation theory, which had been periodically articulated long before the formal demand for recognition of a Muslim nation in 1940 but had never been fully explained in terms of how it would be applied. Although Pakistan was intended to save South Asia’s Muslims from being a permanent minority, it never became the homeland of all South Asia’s Muslims. One-third of the Indian subcontinent’s Muslims remained behind as a minority in Hindu-dominated India even after partition in 1947. The other two-thirds now lives in two separate countries, Pakistan and Bangladesh, confirming the doubts expressed before independence about the practicality of the two-nation theory.

Pakistan’s freedom struggle had been relatively short, beginning with the demand by the All-India Muslim League for separate Muslim and non-Muslim states in 1940 and ending with the announcement of the partition plan in June 1947. Although the Muslim League claimed to speak for the majority of Indian Muslims, its strongest support and most of its national leadership came from regions where Muslims were in a minority.³ Even after the Muslim League won over local notables in the provinces that were to constitute Pakistan, it did not have a consensus among its leaders over the future direction of the new country. Issues such as the new nation’s constitutional scheme, the status of various ethno-linguistic groups within Pakistan, and the role of religion and theologians in matters of state were still unresolved at independence.

Leaders of the Muslim League had given little thought to, and had made no preparations for, how to run a new country. One possible explanation for this lack is that the demand for Pakistan was devised for bargaining purposes to gain political leverage for Muslims.⁴ Several Muslim leaders, notably poet-philosopher Muhammad Iqbal in 1930, proposed schemes for power sharing between the religious majority and minorities in independent India. They claimed that India’s Muslims constituted a separate nation by virtue of their unique history and cultural differences with the Hindu majority. This claim to nationhood, however, was not necessarily a claim to separate statehood. A separate Muslim nation could have remained part of a federal or confederal India under special power sharing arrangements and that may have been the original intention of the Muslim League leadership.⁵ According to this argument, the refusal of the Indian National Congress to contemplate such power-sharing and to accept the notion of a multination state led inadvertently to partition and the creation of a sovereign Pakistan.

While seeking recognition of a separate Muslim nation, Jinnah had managed to pull together various elements of Muslim leadership in India, creating communal unity through ambiguity about the final goal. He was using the demand for Pakistan to negotiate a new constitutional arrangement in which Muslims would have an equal share of power⁶ once the British left the subcontinent. Historian Ayesha Jalal has elaborated on the impact that Indian Muslim politics of the time made on the demand for Pakistan as well as the nature and contradictions of that demand:

Once the principle of Muslim provinces being grouped to form a separate state was conceded, Jinnah was prepared to negotiate whether that state would seek a confederation with the non-Muslim provinces, namely Hindustan, on the basis of equality at the all-India level, or whether, as a sovereign state, it would make treaty arrangements with the rest of India … If they were to play their role in the making of India’s constitutional future, Jinnah and the Muslim League had to prove their support in the Muslim-majority provinces. Such support could not have been won by too precise a political programme since the interests of Muslims in one part of India did not suit Muslims in others … Jinnah could not afford to wreck the existing structure of Muslim politics, especially since he had nothing plausible to replace it with. This is where religion came to the rescue … Yet Jinnah’s resort to religion was not an ideology to which he was ever committed or even a device to use against rival communities; it was simply a way of giving a semblance of unity and solidity to his divided Muslim constituents. Jinnah needed a demand that was specifically ambiguous and imprecise to command general support, something specifically Muslim though unspecific in every other respect. The intentionally obscure cry for a Pakistan was contrived to meet this requirement … Jinnah could not afford to state precisely what the demand for Pakistan was intended to accomplish. If the demand was to enjoy support from Muslims in the minority provinces it had to be couched in uncompromisingly communal terms. But the communal slant to the demand cut against the grain of politics in the Muslim provinces, particularly the Punjab and Bengal, where Muslim domination over undivided territories depended upon keeping fences mended with members of other communities.

One result of Jinnah’s elaborate strategy was that India’s Muslims demanded Pakistan without really knowing the results of that demand. Once Jinnah’s demand for recognition of Muslim nationhood had been characterized as a demand for India’s division, Jinnah’s critics pointed out that any division of India along communal lines would inevitably have to include a division of the two major provinces, Punjab and Bengal, along similar lines.⁸ A few months before independence, Khwaja Nazimuddin, who later became Pakistan’s second governor general as well as its second prime minister, candidly told a British governor that he did not know what Pakistan means and that nobody in the Muslim League knew.⁹ What may have been an effort to seek recognition for Muslims as a nation in minority moved millions of Indian Muslims into expecting a separate country, the running of which Muslim leaders had made no preparations for. By May 1947, Jinnah was telling a foreign visitor that even if ‘driven into the Sind desert,’ he would insist on a sovereign state.¹⁰

Jinnah and his colleagues in the Muslim League had not contemplated a Pakistan that did not include all of Punjab and Bengal. If the entire scheme was designed to increase the Muslims’ bargaining power in post-British India, the division of India had to be between Muslim-majority provinces and Hindu-majority provinces. Without the non-Muslimmajority districts of these two provinces [Bengal and Punjab], the [Muslim] League could not expect to bargain for parity between ‘Pakistan’ and ‘Hindustan.’¹¹

The British agreement to concede the demand for Pakistan was based partly on the outcome of the 1945–1946 elections for a Constituent Assembly and various provincial assemblies. The elections were organized on the basis of limited franchise and separate electorates for various religious communities, a practice in vogue in India since 1909. The Muslim League won 75 percent of the Muslim vote and all the Muslim seats in the constituent assembly. Only 15 percent of the population had the right to vote on the basis of literacy, property, income, and combatant status.¹² It can be said with some certainty that literate, salaried, and propertied Muslims as well as those who had served in the British army supported the Muslim League. The views of the Muslim peasantry and illiterate masses were less clear.

To shore up Muslim support, the Muslim League appealed to religious and communal sentiment. Although Jinnah—by then known as Quaid-i-Azam (the great leader)—and most of his principal deputies in the campaign for Pakistan were secular individuals, the Muslim League’s 1945–1946 election campaign was based almost entirely on Islamic rhetoric. The Indian National Congress secured the assistance of nationalist Muslim clerics organized in the Jamiat Ulema Hind (Society of Indian Scholars) to attack the Islamic credentials of Jinnah and other Muslim League leaders. The Muslim League responded by rolling out its own theologians. The result was the almost total identification of Pakistan with Islam in the course of the campaign. The rural Muslim masses were encouraged to develop a vague feeling that they would all become better Muslims once a Muslim state was established.¹³ Before extending their support to the Muslim League, some religious leaders demanded assurances from Jinnah that Pakistan would follow Islamic laws. Jinnah offered these assurances, as professor Khalid bin Sayeed notes:

In a letter to the Pir of Manki Sharif, the [Muslim] League leader clearly stated in November 1945: It is needless to emphasize that the constituent Assembly which would be predominantly Muslim in its composition would be able to enact laws for Muslims, not inconsistent with the Shariat laws and the Muslims will no longer be obliged to abide by the Un-Islamic laws… . In the League meetings that the Quaid-i-Azam addressed, particularly in the Muslim majority areas, Islam with its symbols and slogans figured very prominently in all his speeches. Addressing the Pathans, he said, Do you want Pakistan or not? (shouts of Allah-o-Akbar) (God is great). Well, if you want Pakistan, vote for the League candidates. If we fail to realize our duty today you will be reduced to the status of Sudras (low castes) and Islam will be vanquished from India. I shall never allow Muslims to be slaves of Hindus. (Allaho-Akbar.)¹⁴

In Punjab, where the Muslim elite had been reluctant followers of Jinnah, the tide was turned with the help of conservative religious elements. A Pakistani scholar and former diplomat explains:

The spectacular victory of the Muslim League in the Punjab elections in 1946 (79 of the 86 Muslim seats as against only 2 out of 86 Muslim seats in 1937) cannot be understood only in terms of Quaidi-Azam’s charisma. One cannot ignore the use that was made of the religious emotions by the ulema [Islamic scholars], the sajjada nashins [hereditary heads of Sufi shrines] and their supporters. The thrust of their message was simple; those who vote for the Muslim League are Muslims, they will go to Heaven for this good act. Those who vote against the Muslim League are kafirs [non-believers], they will go to hell after their death. They were to be refused burial in a Muslim cemetery … The Quaid-i-Azam was not unaware of the use of religion in this manner by the Muslim League, although on principle he was opposed to mixing religion with politics … And yet it is a fact that the people of Pakistan talked in the only idiom they knew. Pakistan was to be the laboratory of Islam, the citadel of Islam.¹⁵

In what was an early, but by no means the last, effort at attributing religious status to Pakistan’s political leadership, several Muslim League leaders from Punjab added religious titles, such as Maulana, Pir, or Sajjada Nashin to their names in dubious pretensions to piety.¹⁶ In the end, the clerics and hereditary religious leaders reduced the argument in favor of creating Pakistan to a simple question of survival of Islam on the South Asian subcontinent.

The sort of logic these religious leaders used was best summarized in one of the speeches of Maulana Abdus Sattar Khan Niazi. He said, We have got two alternatives before us, whether to join or rather accept the slavery of Bania Brahman Raj in Hindustan or join the Muslim fraternity, the federation of Muslim provinces. Every Pathan takes it as an insult for him to prostrate before Hindu Raj and will gladly sit with his brethren in Islam in the Pakistan Constituent Assembly. A Pathan is a Muslim first and a Muslim last.¹⁷

The 1945–1946 election enabled the Muslim League to claim that it was the sole representative of the Muslims. Jinnah interpreted the vote as a mandate for him to negotiate on behalf of Muslims, a position the British had no choice but to accept. The election campaign generated religious fervor, and its result seemed to indicate that the Muslims were unhappy at the prospect of being dominated by Hindus; but the election results did not settle the question of what India’s Muslims really wanted. Jalal points out that even the limited Muslim vote had not ratified a specific programme because no programme had actually been specified. No one was clear about the real meaning of ‘Pakistan’ let alone its precise geographical boundaries.¹⁸ The Muslim League still did not form the government in most of the Muslim-majority provinces, making it impossible to divide India neatly into Muslim-majority and -minority provinces and then allowing two parties, the Muslim League and the Congress, to negotiate a future constitutional arrangement as equals.

Having decided to end colonial rule over India, the British conceded the demand for Pakistan by agreeing to divide India as well as the provinces of Punjab and Bengal. The Pakistan that was created was communally more homogenous but economically and administratively a backwater. Communal riots involving Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs resulted in massive migrations from Pakistan to India and vice versa, although no such shifts of population had been envisaged by Pakistan’s founders. The communal basis of partition, coupled with the religious frenzy generated by it, made religion more central to the new state of Pakistan than Jinnah may have originally envisaged.

The circumstances of the Muslim League’s apparent success in the 1946 elections foreshadowed the difficulties confronting Pakistan’s leaders once the new country was created. The campaign for Pakistan had, in its final stages, become a religious movement even though its leaders initiated it as a formula for resolving post-independence constitutional problems. This created confusion about Pakistan’s raison d’être, which Pakistan’s leadership has attempted to resolve through a state ideology. The Muslim League did not retain mass support in the areas that became Pakistan within a few years of independence, especially after universal adult franchise was recognized. The abstract notion of a Pakistan that would be Muslim but not necessarily Islamic in a strict religious sense was confronted with alternative visions. The elite that demanded an independent Pakistan was now challenged by groups that appealed to the wider electorate, most of whom did not have a say in the 1946 election that led to partition. Religious leaders who had been brought belatedly in to campaign for the Muslim League were joined by theologians who had not supported the demand for Pakistan, and they started calling for the new country’s Islamization. Others sought to build Pakistan as a loose federation of Muslim majority provinces, with an emphasis on ethnic and regional cultures.

To complicate matters further, when Pakistan was finally born, it faced an environment of insecurity and hostility, with many Indian leaders predicting the early demise of the new country. A former Pakistani foreign minister explained half a century later that the new country found itself beset with problems:

The partition plan of 3 June 1947 gave only seventy-two days for transition to independence. Within this brief period, three provinces had to be divided, referendums organized, civil and armed services bifurcated, and assets apportioned. The telescoped timetable created seemingly impossible problems for Pakistan, which, unlike India, inherited neither a capital nor government nor the financial resources to establish and equip the administrative, economic and military institutions of the new state. Even more daunting problems arose in the wake of the partition. Communal rioting led to the killing of hundreds of thousands of innocent people. A tidal wave of millions of refugees entered Pakistan, confronting the new state with an awesome burden of rehabilitation.¹⁹

Getting the new state on its feet economically presented one of the major challenges. Pakistan had virtually no industry, and the major markets for its agricultural products were in India. Pakistan produced 75 percent of the world’s jute supply but did not have a single jute-processing mill. All the mills were in India. Although one-third of undivided India’s cotton was grown in Pakistan, it had only one-thirtieth of the cotton mills.²⁰ The non-Muslim entrepreneurial class, which had dominated commerce in the areas now constituting Pakistan, either fled or transferred its capital across the new border. The flight of capital was attributed to uncertainties about Pakistan’s capacity to survive and the communal disturbances.²¹ The U.S. consul in Karachi estimated in July 1947 that, in early June, Rs. 3 billion were sent out of the Punjab alone. Capital transferred from the province of Sindh stood at between Rs. 200 and Rs. 300 million.²² This amounted to shrinking the revenue base of the new country even before it was formally created. The monetary assets of the Pakistan government were held by the Reserve Bank of India and, given the atmosphere of hostility between partisans of the Indian National Congress and the Muslim League, the division and transfer of assets was by no means a smooth process. Pakistan’s earliest government officials feared the economic strangulation of their new country and saw a Hindu design to force Pakistan to its knees.²³

Pakistan’s evolution as a state and nation was deeply influenced by these economic and political challenges and the early responses of Pakistan’s leaders to these challenges. The ambiguity that had united the supporters of Pakistani independence could no longer be maintained now that the country had come into being. Jinnah could not now break completely from the communal rhetoric preceding independence even though he was concerned about aggravating the communal violence already stoked during partition.

Three days before Pakistan’s independence was formalized and Jinnah became the new dominion’s governor general, he addressed Pakistan’s Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947. This speech suggests that Pakistan’s founder and Quaid-i-Azam expected the new country to be a homeland of Muslims but that he did not expect a role for religion in its governance:

You are free, free to go to your temples; you are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the state. As you know, history shows that in England conditions some time ago were much worse than those prevailing in India today. The Roman Catholics and the Protestants persecuted each other. Even now there are some states in existence where there are discriminations made and bars imposed against a particular class. Thank God, we are not starting in those days. We are starting in the days when there is no discrimination, no distinction between one caste or creed and another. We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one state. The people of England in course of time had to face the realities of the situation and had to discharge the responsibilities and burdens placed upon them by the government of their country, and they went through that fire step by step. Today, you might say with justice that Roman Catholics and Protestants do not exist, what exists now is that every man is a citizen, an equal citizen of Great Britain, and they are all members of the nation. Now I think we should keep that in front of us as our ideal and you will find that in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State.²⁴

Pakistan’s secularists have interpreted Jinnah’s August 11 speech as a clear statement of intent to build a secular state.²⁵ Although the speech was widely publicized at the time in an attempt to quell the communal riots that accompanied partition, subsequent official accounts of Jinnah’s life included only an edited version of the speech. References to religion having no role in the business of state had been taken out.²⁶ In any case, Jinnah died within a year of independence, leaving his successors divided, or confused, about whether to take their cue from his independence eve call to keep religion out of politics or to build on the religious sentiment generated during the political bargaining for Pakistan. Onthe-ground political realities determined their direction.

The greatest support for Pakistan had come from Muslims living in regions that did not become part of the new state. These Muslim minority regions, now in India, also provided a disproportionate number of the Muslim League’s leadership, senior military officers, and civil servants for Pakistan’s early administration. Interprovincial rivalries, ethnic and language differences, and divergent political interests of various elite groups had remained dormant while Pakistan was only a demand. Now that it was a state, these became obstacles to constitution writing and political consensus building. India, which became independent along with Pakistan in 1947, agreed on a constitution in 1949 and held its first general election in 1951. Pakistan’s first constitution was not promulgated until 1956, and within two years it was abrogated through a military coup d’état.

Pakistan, unlike India, did not go through a general election after independence. Instead, indirect elections through provincial assemblies substituted for an appeal to the general electorate. Provincial elections, held in the Punjab and the NWFP in 1951, were tainted by allegations of administrative interference, whereas the center was often at loggerheads with the elected leadership in Sindh. The Muslim League, which had led the country to independence, was swept out of power in the country’s eastern wing in 1954 amid a rising tide of Bengali awakening.

Jinnah’s successors chose to patch over domestic differences in the independent country the same way that Muslim unity had been forged during the pre-independence phase. They defined Pakistani national identity through religious symbolism and carried forward the hostilities between the Indian National Congress and the All-India Muslim League by building India-Pakistan rivalry. The dispute over the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir and continued criticism of the idea of Pakistan by Indian politicians and scholars helped fuel the view that India did not accept the partition of India in good faith and that, by taking piecemeal, she could undo the division.²⁷ The fears of dilution of Muslim identity that had defined the demand for carving Pakistan out of India became the new nation-state’s identity, reinforced over time through the educational system and constant propaganda.

The focus on rivalry with India as an instrument of securing legitimacy and authority for the new Pakistani state defined the locus of political power within Pakistan and influenced the relationship between the state and its citizens.